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Why Are Our Cyclists Winning So Many Medals?

21:07 18th September 2000 by Bikemagic
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British cyclists have made a fantastic start to the Olympics.
Why are we winning so many medals?



Lottery Funding

In common with other leading Olympic sports, Britain’s top cycling athletes are currently
funded by the Lottery, as part of the World Class Performance Programme (WCPP). The
cycling WCPP is managed and administered by the British Cycling Federation (BCF).



WCPP – The Genesis

Three years ago the British Cycling Federation relied on small amounts of exchequer
funding to finance international representative teams. The advent of Lottery funding
enabled the new chief executive of the BCF, Peter King, to hire eminent sports scientist
Peter Keen as British Cycling’s first Performance Director.



Peter Keen – The Leader

Peter Keen already had an excellent reputation as coach of Chris Boardman and Yvonne
McGregor. However, as Performance Director he has proved himself to be a leader with
a range of talents: he is being both a visionary, in terms of his training methods,
and an effective manager, able to implement a benchmark national performance programme.
He is the single biggest reason for Britain’s cycling renaissance.



Lottery Funding – A Revolution In Resources

Staff – Lottery funding has enabled Peter Keen to hire the best coaches, managers,
mechanics, masseurs and support staff for the WCPP. Full time professional staff
have replaced the over-stretched volunteers of the recent past. Full-time athletes
- The riders benefit directly from subsistence funding which enables them to devote
themselves full-time to their sport – the majority used to hold down full-time jobs
and trained when they could. Equipment – the best equipment is available for all
riders, from Trek bikes, right through to Rudy Project helmets. Training – Our riders
now travel to Australia and southern Europe to train through the winter months.



Cycling – A Blueprint For Other Sports

From the very beginning, cycling has been considered as a blueprint on how to implement
Lottery funding for elite athlete development by the sports councils. The British
cycling Federation is now also being held up as an excellent example of how to run
a sport’s governing body.



Taking On The World

Britain’s top cyclists now compete on the world stage far more frequently, giving
them a psychological edge over their predecessors. Our Track, Mountain Bike and women’s
Road riders compete in World Cup events throughout the summer, carrying off their
fair share of victories. No longer do British cyclists harbour feelings of inferiority
when they come up against the leading nations in major championships.



Where Did Our Medal Winners Come From?

The majority of the successful Olympic cycling team were already competing at the
highest level when Peter Keen was appointed. The difference that Lottery funding
and the support of the best programme in sport have made has now become clear. Even
riders at the very end of their careers like Yvonne McGregor (39 years old) are producing
career best performances. Medals not placings are now the order of the day.



Where Will The Top Riders Of Tomorrow Come From?

Success breeds success but also expectations and pressure. The next generation of
cyclists will have a lot to live up to. Two crucial development programmes are already
in place to ensure that a steady stream of talented young riders feeds the senior
World Class Performance Programme – World Class Start and World Class Potential,
also Lottery funded, are geared identifying raw talent in 12-13 year olds and progressing
them through to junior international level. Again headed by Peter Keen, these programmes
are designed to provide a continuum, taking athletes from early teens right through
to the Olympics. British cycling is ready for the next generation of top cyclists.



What Does Cycling Have To Offer The Family

British cycling already has competitions for youngsters from junior school age upwards.
Development officers work full time in every region of the country. The leisure cyclists,
family cyclists and women cyclists are all part of a structured leisure cycling programme
which is due for implementation in the next 12 months. Call the BCF on 0161 230 2301
for details of your local Development Officer or nearest club.





After Jason Queally’s gold medal winning ride, Peter Keen British Cycling Federation’s
Performance Director gave his reaction:



"Jason Queally is a fine example of the potential impact of the flow of national
Lottery funding into Britain’s non-commercial sports. For two years Jason has been
able to focus full-time on his training and development thanks to a Lottery grant
towards his living and sporting costs. The coaches and support staff working in
the background to prepare him are now paid professionals rather than dedicated volunteers,
and equally importantly Jason and the rest of the team have a World Class training
facility at the Manchester velodrome – all thanks to Lottery funding.



Since the commencement of the Cycling World Class Performance Programme in 1997 the
sport has received over £3 million of Lottery money, which has enabled over
80 cyclists to pursue their ambitions to be successful on the international stage.
This represents a five-fold increase of funding.



Jason’s success points the way forward for our Olympic sports – a clear connection
between the Lottery ticket buying British Public and the successful performers on
their TV screens. Allied to this must be increased opportunity for all youngsters
to try out sports they are interested combined with a carefully designed talent scouting
that can connect gifted young people with quality assured sports coaches.



The British Cycling Federation, with the support of the National Lottery, UK Sport
and Sport England, has ambitious plans for youth and schools programmes, coach education
and high performance that we believe will make us the World’s number one cycling
nation in a decade. Jason Queally has provided us with a perfect launch for this
mission. There are 20 million bicycles in the UK and kids still love bikes. We
are therefore very optimistic about the future of British Cycling."

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